Taurus 380 UL

The Pocket Revolver Reinvented

The Taurus 380 UL. Its companions are the ProTec 90 from Streamlight and a tidy little
“Stellar Clip” as Taurus calls the loading clips.

A neat little revolver, using full-moon clips, and chambered for the .380 Auto cartridge? At this point, a gun-cynic might ask why? However, they’d find they didn’t think it through. First, look at the cartridge. In modern loads, the ballistics edge into full 9mm category. And it does this without hand-stinging felt-recoil. For those with any hand problems, this can be important. The Taurus 380 UL takes it a step further with a one-piece grip of soft rubber having a little rest for the small finger at the bottom. I’m an auto-pistol person, and this is one of the few revolvers I’ve picked up feeling “exactly right” as it were.

Then, there are those full-moon clips. While they don’t hold the cartridges as rigidly as a speed-loader, the clips can serve in this role and be quicker than loose rounds. I also noticed these clips are easier to load and unload than most of the type. You get several with the 380 UL, and more are available, of course.

In the model designation, Taurus drops the decimal from “.380”, and the UL is for “Ultra-Light.” And, with its alloy frame, light it is at just 16 oz. Also, because of the small cartridge, the dimensions are good for concealment. It’s 5.95″ long, 4.4″ in height and the 5-shot cylinder has a width of 1.4″. The short barrel is 1.75″.

The 380 UL has comfy rubber-like grips with a pinky rest at the bottom. The barrel is only 1.75".

Innovative Thinking

Taurus calls their “full-moon” cartridge holders “stellar clips.” It’s really a better term since they do have a star-like appearance. If you’re in a survival situation — your light plane crashes in the Outback and all your clips are lost — you can use the 380 UL without them. Comforting, no?

The chambers have a step and the rounds will stop on the case mouth. However, this method should be used only in a dire emergency. With different kinds of ammo, there can be a slight variation in case length, causing a misfire. In personal protection use, such an occurrence could be fatally embarrassing. Use the clips.

The trigger is wide, and its front face is smooth, as it should be on a DAO Revolver. The pull is so easy I was surprised to find it was around 11 lbs. If that’s a little heavy for you, the hammer spring tension is adjustable on Taurus revolvers, which is very clever. Just be sure you don’t lighten it to the misfire level.
The hammer has no cocking spur, of course, and it’s beautifully recessed into the frame. There’s nothing there to snag as you’re getting it out. Near the rear edge of the exposed part is the Taurus safety, ready to be popped out with the provided key. When that’s done, everything stops.

Because of the small cartridge, everything is shorter, and this includes the ejector movement. The rod travels only 3/8″. Even so, it efficiently ejects the clip and five empty cases. I think the added weight of the clip helps in this.

On a self-defense piece like this, sights are of less importance, but these are excellent. They are a square-picture and the rear notch is wide. The ramped and serrated front is part of the barrel housing. The small black rear sight is adjustable, laterally, via a small screw on the right side.

The “stellar clip” acts as a speed-loader and allows positive ejection too.

The small screw below the rear sight will laterally adjust it. It’s great to be able to precisely zero this little wheel gun.

The spurless hammer is neatly recessed. At its base is the Taurus key-safety.

Fun To Shoot

Out at the Big Tree range, I tried the 380 UL with five different loads, ranging from ordinary full-jacket to hot hollow-points. Standing, with a 2-hand hold, the distances were 7 and 15 yards. On the big 8″ black of a Champion 100-yard sight-in target, all shots stayed near the center. At the closer range, I got one group just a hair over 3″. At 15 yards, the average was around 5″. But hey, it’s a tiny revolver, a genuine pocket gun if ever there was one so I think it’s pretty good.

So, it’s accurate. Also, beautifully made, and perfect for the purpose. Out there on the free market, it’s a little less than $400. MSRP is $513.79. I imagine a company numbers-person translated this directly from Brazilian reals and centavos? Even at full price, it’s worth it.

Charter makes a .380 revolver and now, Cimarron is importing a cute 1862 Pocket Navy, also in .380 ACP, so this latest Taurus occupies rarified air, without much competition. I enjoyed shooting this little gun a lot.

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